Yesterday morning, Sherry and I attended the first of the grand opening services at Waterline’s new campus in Pendleton led by Pastor Joe & Dawn Deckard. This day also marked the 8th anniversary of the launching of Waterline Church that was birthed in 2011 under the leadership of Pastor John & Danielle Freed. Congratulations to Waterline on this milestone and their first daughter church!
Pastor Danielle Freed brought a wonderful team of volunteers from the Fishers campus to serve together with the team that has committed to help launch this campus. They are launching in a building where our Crossroads District formerly had a congregation called New Life. That congregation closed several years ago and we had recently been leasing the facility to another congregation knowing that when God opened the door, we wanted to relaunch ministry in this zip code. Pastor Joe & Dawn moved into the parsonage just last month but have been actively engaging the community over the past year with their children in the local schools. Yesterday, they welcomed 91 in attendance and celebrated another decision for Christ.
I always enjoy it when Sherry can travel with me to visit our churches but she also volunteers as treasurer for Waterline, the church where we are members, and loves to attend there so she feels torn. Yesterday, she was able to do both!
Last Monday, I was on the road in Frankfort to meet with Pastor Alan Downing (Connecting Point Church) and Pastor Calimerio Rodriguez (Templo de Poder) about the church planting project they are praying about. I love the way our churches are praying and dreaming together about advancing the Kingdom in new communities and among new people groups!
Tuesday morning, our district office staff connected and then I pointed the car north that afternoon to meet with Pastor Rich VanVuren at Shiloh Wesleyan Church and Pastor Ollie Dongell at Plymouth Wesleyan Church. Wednesday morning, I met with Pastor Rick Fletcher at Lifeway Church in Fort Wayne, and then met Pastor Randy Yaryan at Winchester Wesleyan for lunch. On my way back from Winchester, I stopped at Rising Hope in Muncie to see the progress they’re making on remodeling the campus. The chairs had arrived that Pastor Mike Colaw, our Region 2 Assistant DS, and Indianapolis Trinity Wesleyan so graciously donated. I celebrate the generosity of our churches!
My final stop of the day was with Pastor Tim McClellan and the LBA at Lakeview Wesleyan Church in Marion as the leadership team affirmed Pastor Tim’s extended call.
Thursday’s schedule took me back to Huntington to meet with Pastor Zach Working (Hope Rising Church) before heading on to Warsaw to meet with Rev. Eliorgy and Zoraida Guerrero, pastor of Cielos Abiertos (Open Heaven Wesleyan Church in Elkhart).
Rev. Guerrero has helped us connect with a church planting team in Goshen, is coaching a couple who will be working to reach out to Hispanics in Warsaw with Pastor Osborne and Pathway Church, and he’s started another home Bible study with a group in South Bend. Pastor Guerrero models apostolic imagination and multiplication!
Friday morning, I met with Assistant DS Chris Williams before connecting with two ministry students from Indiana Wesleyan University for an interview about our denomination. Both of these students had other denominational families before studying at IWU but are now in our DBMD process and looking forward to serving in The Wesleyan Church. The future is bright with young leaders like this stepping up!
My final meeting of the day was with our District Treasurer as we begin the budgeting process for the new conference year which begins on May 1. Mrs. Nancy Schoonmaker, CFO for IWU, does a terrific job serving our district and also serves on the finance team at her home church. It is a joy to serve with committed leaders like Nancy and the other members of our District Board of Administration.
Saturday morning, I was with Pastor Mike Colaw and Don Cady at Indianapolis Trinity as they interview a couple about possibilities for inner city ministry partnership. God is blessing the Kingdom vision of Trinity and it will be exciting to see what He has in store as they reach out to their city.
Mark your calendar for April 6. Don’t miss out on ReEquip 2019, coming up in 8 weeks! Every leader brings a carload!
Click here to visit the ReEquip website!
Keep on making a difference in the only cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
P.S. Be careful out there. It’s pothole season!
Sunday morning, February 3, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Joe & Nancy Park at Evergreen Wesleyan Church in Lafayette. Pastor Joe has faithfully pastored this congregation since 1974. Attendance averaged 65 last year with 14 professions of faith and 4 new believers baptized. This was my third visit to Evergreen since moving to Indiana and it is encouraging to see the progress they’ve made with expanding their parking lot and welcoming new members. After the morning service, I met with Pastor Park and the LBA for a helpful conversation as they consider the possibility of hosting a new Hispanic church plant.
Sunday afternoon, I was in Muncie at Memorial Drive Wesleyan Church to meet with the LBA and Pastor Lee Miller in preparation for Pastor Miller’s renewal of call vote. The LBA voted unanimously to recommend the four-year call to the local church conference. Attendance last year was 55 with 7 professions of faith and 2 baptisms. They recently completed a strategic ministry plan, have launched an addiction recovery ministry, and are actively considering possibilities for expanding their facilities or relocating.
The weather last week wasn’t ideal for travel but I was able to make all our scheduled appointments. Monday evening, I was with Pastor Jim Weinmann and the LBA at Evanston Avenue Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis for the extended call review. The LBA unanimously approved his extended call and affirmed his ministry. Jim is another of our faithful bi-vocational pastors and he has served at Evanston Avenue since 1995. One of the recent developments at Evanston Avenue is hosting the launch team meetings for a new Hispanic congregation that will be led by Rev. Dimas and Rev. Irma Alberto.
Tuesday morning, our staff met at Abbey Coffee in Marion and then I connected with Pastor Mark Schnell over lunch. Pastor Mark & Sharie have been a wonderful blessing providing interim ministry to our Albion Wesleyan Church this year. Tuesday afternoon, I was in Elwood to connect with Pastor Tim Becker as Elwood Main Street prepares for their pastoral vote. Tim has served since 2013 and attendance has increased from 95 to 124 during his tenure. Last year they celebrated 8 professions of faith and 8 baptisms.
Wednesday morning, I met with Rev. Heath Croft in Fort Wayne. Rev. Croft is an ordained minister in process-of-transfer who is serving the team at Level 13 Church. Continue to pray for Heath and Hayley as they help their family make the adjustment from the warmth of Alabama to the subzero temperatures we experienced this past week.
I met with a prospective church planter over lunch and then connected with Pastor Shane Wilson at Columbia City New Hope Church in preparation for his upcoming renewal of call. Shane is completing his second conference year as lead pastor at New Hope. Last year, New Hope baptized 31 new believers!
Wednesday evening, I met with Pastor Dale Munsell and the LBA at Cornerstone Wesleyan Church, near Albion, in preparation for his renewal of call vote. The LBA strongly affirmed Pastor Dale’s leadership. Attendance has grown from 43 in his first year to 59 last year when they also celebrated 25 professions of faith. They’ve also tackled building projects and updated the sanctuary.
Thursday morning, I met with Dr. Colleen Derr, President of Wesley Seminary, in Fishers before heading on to Cincinnati to participate in FUEL. Rev. Zach Coffin and the team from CMAD did a great job hosting and pouring into youth and children’s leaders from across our denominational family on Thursday and Friday. Pastor Charlie Alcock shared a powerful message on reconciliation in the opening rally. He does such an amazing job of pouring into next generation leaders at IWU and he had a great team with him from the KERN program.
Cincinnati will be the site for FOLLOW 2019, the international youth convention for The Wesleyan Church, December 28-31. It’s not too soon to be working with your youth group to make plans for this life-changing event. Zach Coffin asked how many of the FUEL participants had experienced a significant spiritual encounter at previous youth conventions and the vast majority raised their hands in affirmation. Don’t let your teens miss out on this powerful experience.
Saturday morning, I was glad to visit with Scott Drury, VP of Advancement for Southern Wesleyan University. Scott is off to a great start in the job that his father held 35 years ago. I also had the opportunity to connect with Pastor Zach Working at Hope Rising in Huntington. Jackie Vick sent some T-shirts from Global Partners for the baptism service that Hope Rising had planned. Pastor Zach baptized 2 men yesterday, one new believer with a terminal brain tumor and another who had run from God for 17 years. The church was full with 175 gathered for this celebration of God’s live transforming power!
Pastor Joe Deckard reported another positive preview event at the new Waterline campus in Pendleton including new families attending and 1 profession of faith. Pray as they build momentum for a strong launch heading into Easter.
In case you missed it, two very special people celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary this past weekend. Dr. Jim and Roxene Lo are a wonderful blessing to so many in our district family and as they lead at Parkview Wesleyan Church in Chesterfield. Congratulations to this Kingdom couple on this significant milestone!
Our sympathies and prayers are extended to the family members of Rev. Charles Jacob McCallum (age 95), including our own Rev. Chuck McCallum. Rev. Charles McCallum passed away early last Thursday. Rev. McCallum, a member of the Tri-State District, was ordained in 1946 and served faithfully for more than 50 years. The family will welcome visitation in the chapel at College Wesleyan Church in Marion on Saturday, February 9, from 10 until noon. The memorial service will be held in Kansas on February 23. A full obituary will be distributed to our district leaders later this week.
There’s still time to register your students for the Crossroads District All-Nighter in Fort Wayne on February 22-23. Here’s the link for more information and to sign up your teens: 2019 All-Nighter
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sherry and I enjoyed the warm-hearted worship and fellowship with Pastor Allen and Cheryl Laws and the fine folks yesterday morning at Warren Wesleyan Church. We’d had to reschedule due to the weather closing on the previous Sunday so I was glad the sun was shining and the roads were clear yesterday. Warren is another of Indiana’s small towns with a rich history. Economic decline in the past years resulted in the high school closing and families leaving. The town does seem to be turning a corner with more jobs available.
Pastor Allen, another of our faithful bi-vocational pastors, has played a key role in the community serving with the food bank, assisting with re-employment and helping people enter addiction-recovery programs. I had a brief meeting with their leadership team after the service and then Sherry and I hosted the Laws for lunch.
Last week’s attempt was postponed by weather, but Pastor Joe & Dawn Deckard led their team in the first preview service held in Pendleton for Waterline’s new campus. They are using a building we own that formerly hosted New Life Wesleyan. It was encouraging to hear that the launch team volunteers with their families and friends totaled 56. Pray with them as they continue to build momentum with two more preview services and prepare for a full launch before Easter. Pictured here are the launch team members:
Last Tuesday, our district staff met on Tuesday morning and then I jumped in on a Zoom call with Dr. Schmidt, GS, and members of the General Board. Tuesday afternoon, I met with Pastor Ryan Budde (Westview Wesleyan Church) and then with Pastor Matthew Stewart (Sweetser Wesleyan Church) before heading south to meet with Pastor Brad LeRoy and the LBA at Harvest Church in McCordsville. Pastor Brad’s extended call was unanimously affirmed for another 4 years. The Harvest Church leadership team is also excited to welcome Rev. Chris Classen next month as their new executive pastor. Chris is presently on staff at Watermark Wesleyan Church (Hamburg, NY) and I served with Chris earlier when he was part of the staff at Kentwood Community Church in Michigan. Pastor Brad LeRoy is enjoying better days on the health front after the past few difficult years. He and Heid are surrounded and loved by the strong and supportive team at Harvest.
Wednesday morning, I met with Pastor Lee Miller (Muncie Memorial Drive) and then met with Rev. Kim Gladden, Director of Discipleship, at HQ to learn more about the upcoming discipleship initiatives she has planned. https://www.wesleyan.org/discipleship
Pastor Joe Deckard joined me for lunch and an update on their progress in building the team in Pendleton. Wednesday evening, I met with Pastor Mark Atkinson and then with the Eastview Wesleyan Church LBA as they completed their 4-year review and unanimously affirmed Pastor Mark’s extended call.
Thursday, I was wiped out by a flu bug or virus of some kind, so special thanks to those who were willing to reschedule our appointments.
Assistant DS Chris Williams led the district conference planning team that met at Abbey Coffee on Thursday morning. We’re excited to partner with Indiana Wesleyan University this year as they host our event in the Phillippe Performing Arts Center. Ordination service is scheduled for Friday evening, June 21, and District Conference is set for Saturday, June 22. Please mark your calendar and plan to join us. (A gentle reminder that this is a required “all-hands on deck” event for our appointed ministers.)
Congratulations are in order to Rev. Chris Williams on his acceptance into the PhD in Organizational Leadership at Columbia International University (South Carolina). In addition to his many other skills and strengths, Chris is a gifted teacher who already serves as an adjunct faculty member at Indiana Wesleyan University.
Pastor Mike and Kim Hewitt graciously stepped up to host our Region 2, East Zone, Pastors and Spouses Fellowship at Rising Hope’s community center in Muncie on Friday evening, after Sherry and I were not up to full speed. I was back up and able to join the group that night and we shared a wonderful time together. It is a remarkable blessing to rejoice with those who rejoice and to carry one another’s burdens as we minister together in the harvest. Thank you also to Pastor Steve Arnett (New Castle Mount Zion) for coordinating our time together as zone chair!
Saturday morning, I attended the celebration of life for Mr. Duane Cady, Don Cady’s father. Don serves on staff at Trinity Wesleyan Church (Indianapolis) and Sharon, Don’s wife, is a valued member of our Crossroads District Board of Administration. It was a moving tribute to a Christian gentleman who loved his family and faithfully served the Lord in his community and in the church as a lay leader and Sunday School teacher. Don and Sharon Cady were joined by Randy and Becky Weidman in a quartet to sing one of Duane’s favorite songs: “Wait Till You See My Brand New Home.”
Rev. Art Davis was at the funeral and told me the story of the day that Duane, as a 37-year-old man, gave his life to Christ under the revival ministry of Dr. Flexon while Rev. Davis was pastoring the church on 46th Street. Mr. Cady leaves a wonderful legacy of faith in his family and friends. Our prayers for God’s comfort go out Mrs. Mary Cady (his widow), and their extended family.
On the way back from Indy, I stopped over at Rising Hope Church to catch up with Rev. Ethan Linder. Ethan was there with some of his young adults from College Wesleyan Church who took the time to come over and assist Pastor Mike Hewitt and some of his young adults from Ball State University in the facility remodeling project. I celebrate every time our churches link arms together to impact our region for Christ.
Thank you for all you do in your respective assignments as pastors and lay leaders to advance God’s Kingdom. The call is clear, the need is great, the time is short. and we are “Sent Now!” (John 9:4)
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
P.S. There’s still time to register your youth group for the 2019 Crossroads District All-Nighter in Fort Wayne on February 22! Click here: Registration Link
Are you old enough to remember the blizzard of 1978? President Carter declared a federal disaster in Indiana on January 27, 1978 and the governor activated the National Guard. It wasn’t quite this bad over the past weekend but the blowing snow and temperatures made it wise for many of our congregations to not hold worship services.
While gathering to meet in a building wasn’t an option for many, I was encouraged by the number of our churches who provided creative online options. FaceBook Live seemed to be one convenient format that several pastors used to connect with their congregation. Here’s a sample with Pastor Mark Schnell from Albion Wesleyan Church:
Sherry and I were scheduled to worship with Pastor Allen and Cheryl Laws at Warren Wesleyan Church on Sunday but Pastor Laws got word to us on Saturday evening that their service was cancelled. Sherry has been helping out with accounting at The River Church in Marion, so we fired up the AWD and made it in to Marion for an encouraging time of worship with Pastor Matthew Trexler and his team. They held one combined service yesterday and attendance was strong for that gathering.
Tuesday, January 15, began with our weekly district office staff meeting and then I met with one of young couples who are serving as resident pastors in our district. Tuesday evening, I connected with Pastor Tony Bye and the leadership team at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church as they prepare for the normally-scheduled pastoral vote. It was encouraging to hear the report of 14 baptisms at BWC so far in this conference year!
Wednesday, I was on the road for coaching conversations. The first was in Lebanon with Dr. Morris Jones, pastor of Lebanon Wesleyan Church. Dr. Jone is another of our faithful bi-vocational ministers. He serves as an academic advisor at IUPUI during the week and also serves as a member of the city council in Lebanon. He was excited to share how the church has been exploring new ways this past year to connect with their neighbors and serve their community.
Pastor Logan Patriquin and I met for his coaching conversation over lunch and then he took me on a tour of the remodeling projects at the church. Formerly known as Schuyler Avenue Wesleyan Church, the Branch is making strides to better connect with their community through an after-school mentoring program. They’ve recently welcomed Ms. Amber Bass as part-time paid staff in worship and youth. Pastor Logan has been encouraged by the way the team has come together for these projects and attendance is on the upswing.
My last coaching appointment of the day was in Logansport with Pastor Zach Szmara at The Bridge. Pastor Zach does an amazing job of juggling his responsibilities as lead pastor at The Bridge and serving as National Director for Immigrant Connection, the multi-site ministry that helps people navigate the complexities of our immigration process. The Bridge is a multicultural congregation reaching into the Hispanic community but has recently added several families from Haiti who have come to work in Logansport. These families had Wesleyan roots from the ministry on the island of La Gonave. Elyse Garverick has recently joined with Zach on the pastoral team and the influence of the church continues to expand beyond its walls to serve Logansport.
Thursday morning, I was in Marion to meet with a pastoral couple who are exploring ministry opportunities in our district before heading to Fishers. I met with Pastor John Freed and Pastor Joe Deckard for an update on their progress toward launching Waterline in Pendleton. Then, Pastor Neftali Lopez (Carmel Amistad) and I met over supper for his annual coaching conversation. I am grateful for the leadership that Pastor Lopez brings as a bi-vocational pastor serving in the U.S. Navy reserves, in restaurant management, and as a chaplain for IWU campus buildings in the Indianapolis area.
My last meeting of the day was with Pastor Tom Parsons and the LBA at Hartford City Wesleyan Church. Pastor Tom is completing 18 years of effective ministry at HCWC but has answered a call to pastor a church in Georgia. He shared that announcement with the congregation earlier this month and I am working with the LBA as they prepare to launch their pastoral search. Rev. Chris Williams, Assistant DS, also shared a presentation on the accountable leadership model of governance that was well-received.
Pastor Tom & Kara Parsons have been used of God in remarkable ways to bless HCWC. While we are going to miss them here in the Crossroads District, we pray that God will bless them in even greater measure in their new ministry assignment. Please join us in praying as the leadership team prepares to call a new pastor to lead this vital ministry.
Friday morning, I joined with Dr. Smith, our Chair, and other members of the District Board of Ministerial Development to interview ordination candidates. I’m always encouraged to hear these stories of how God is calling women and men to lead the church in these exciting days of ministry challenge and opportunity.
Friday evening, I joined Pastor Paul VanCise and his team at Bryant Wesleyan Church as Assistant DS Chris Williams led them through the first session in their StratOp planning retreat. The weather forecast resulted in the additional sessions being rescheduled. The first session focused in on learnings from their church’s journey. It was encouraging to see how God has blessed this vibrant rural ministry under Pastor Paul’s leadership.
The 2019 District All-Nighter is fast approaching! The main rally for this event is returning to Pathway Community Church (11910 Shearwater Run., Fort Wayne) at 8pm on the February 22nd (Doors open at 6:30pm and Pre-Rally starts at 7:45pm).
The night kicks off with a rally featuring giveaways, worship, message, and pizza. After the rally, students enjoy their time at Skyzone, Ultrazone/Laser X, Crazy Pinz, and the YMCA. If they love laser tag, trampolines, bowling, putt putt golf, swimming, pizza, open gym, and rock walls, this event is for your students! Plan to join several hundred other students and adults from the Crossroads District for this event! Here’s the link for more information and to register your group:
2019 Crossroads District Youth All-Nighter
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
More than 150 Crossroads District team members (pastors and their spouses) joined with another 1800 Wesleyan leaders who came from across the USA, Canada and even New Zealand for The Gathering. First established in 2007, this marked the fourth time that Wesleyan leaders have convened like this for worship, training and renewal.
Rev. Carol Schenck, Noblesville campus pastor for Circle of Hope and our District Secretary, posted this on her Facebook page:
“Preparing to head back home after an amazing Pastors’ Conference. We thank our home district, Crossroads, for their assistance in helping provide many of us as district pastors funding to attend. This conference was life-changing in so many ways for many of us. On behalf of all of us from Circle of Hope campuses, we say thank you for the care you give to us as district pastors. We are the blessed ones!”
Congratulations to Executive Director Becci Wood and her team who organized The Gathering, a ministry of the HQ Department of Education and Clergy Development. The generosity of the Wesleyan Investment Foundation as the lead sponsor was a special blessing to this event.
The music team led us in Spirit-filled worship. The speakers were real and relevant. And the fellowship was sweet as new friendships were formed and long-time ministry colleagues reunited. Special appreciation goes to our District Board of Administration who committed resources from our Thrive Fund to match the contributions of local churches and make it possible for so many of our pastors and their spouses to attend.
Sherry and I left on Sunday afternoon and drove to the event with 8 large boxes of T-shirts to be distributed as the Heartland Region launched its new website:
My first appointment was with the members of the Boards of Trustees from all five our Wesleyan higher education institutions. Our sessions began with lunch on Tuesday and concluded on Wednesday afternoon. We covered a variety of helpful topics for the challenging times that face our colleges.
My schedule changed when we received word that Assistant DS Chris Williams’ mother, Mrs. Joyce Williams, had unexpectedly passed away on Tuesday. We were already scheduled to host our Crossroads District team for a luncheon on Thursday so Sherry, Seth and I handled that and then I had a planning meeting with the Heartland Region DS team late Thursday afternoon. As soon as that meeting was over, I left for Maryland and arrived in Salisbury, MD on Friday evening to represent our team at the visitation time. The funeral was held at Emmanuel Wesleyan Church on Saturday morning.
Rev. Chris Williams and Sean, his son and Joyce’s oldest grandchild, both did a great job sharing memories and paying tribute to Mrs. Williams as a loving mother and grandmother. Rev. Mark Bunting and Rev. Tom Bunting conducted the funeral and they both affirmed the wonderful legacy of faith that Joyce left for her family and friends.
From Maryland, I was heading west into the oncoming snowstorm so Rev. Damian and Anne Williams graciously hosted me in the Pittsburgh suburbs. The Williams generously funded several of our first Maximizing Impact weekends here in Indiana and it was good to reconnect with them. I worshiped with them at Allison Park Church, their home church, on Sunday morning,
This wonderful ministry, led by Pastor Jeff Leake, has launched more than 100 church plants across the northeastern states in the past 10 years. After a brief lunch with the Williams, I hit the road and made it safely back to Indiana before sunset. No matter how far you roam, there’s no place like home!
This week we’re praying for Pastor Joe & Dawn Deckard who are hosting their first preview service in Pendleton this coming Sunday, 10:30 a.m., for a new church plant as part of the Waterline Church network. If you have unsaved, unchurched friends or relatives in the Pendleton area, let them know about this new campus of Waterline Church:
There is still time to register for the Crossroads District’s Youth Ministry All-Nighter. This year’s event is scheduled for Fri-Sat, Feb. 22-23, in Fort Wayne. All the youth leaders who are on file with our district office have received detailed information from DYP Lane Sander. If you haven’t received the information, please add you name to the list at our office and make sure your teenagers don’t miss this powerful event! Click here for more information!
Mark your calendar for ReEquip 2019, on April 6, in Marion. Our guest speakers will be Pastor Mike & Tina Hilson, (New Life Network in LaPlata, MD) who are setting the pace for church multiplication, and Dr. David Smith, TrueNorth Ministry, who is helping churches deepen the level of Bible engagement among their members. There will also be specialized breakouts for children and youth leaders. Click here to visit the ReEquip website!
We’re praising the Lord with Pastor Tony Bye and the Brookhaven Wesleyan Church who are off to a great start in 2019 baptizing 7 new believers yesterday morning. Praise the Lord for each one who publicly professed their faith in Christ!
I’m believing with you for a great year of Kingdom advance in 2019!
Your servant in Christ,
Happy New Year! It’s always exciting to launch into a new year of ministry. Sunday morning, January 6, Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Brent and Naomi Miller and the welcoming congregation at Southside Wesleyan Church in Gas City. After the service, I held a brief meeting with the Local Board of Administration.
Pastor Brent is completing his sixth year of ministry as lead pastor after a season on staff with Pastor Mark Atkinson at Eastview Wesleyan. Pastor Brent is one of our effective bi-vocational pastors. Southside is his home church so he’s navigated some unique challenges as he’s led the church from averaging 40 to running more than 70. They’ve made positive improvements in the ministry and facility. One of their recent initiatives was to host a community outreach event called: Who-Bilation.
The team worked hard to pull off this special event and were blown away when the community responded with more than 500 attending. Pray for Pastor Brent and the Southside team as they follow-up on some new friends and reach out to their community.
The last Sunday of the year, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Franz & Yuldia Gonzalez at Vida y Esperanza. Pastor Frank and his family received immigration status in the USA among the many thousands who have fled the socialist regime in Venezuela. They came to Goshen, Indiana, with little but their vibrant faith in Christ. In March, 2016, Pastor Franz gathered the first small group in his home. Today, they worship in rented space with as many as 60 people now comprising the congregation. Through our mutual friend in Elkhart, Pastor Eliorgy Guerrero, Pastor Gonzalez and this Goshen congregation are taking steps to joining our Crossroads District team. Pray that God will bless their outreach to the growing Hispanic community in northern Indiana.
Last week included our staff meeting on Wednesday, attending the funeral of Dr. Thomas Phillippe (beloved church leader and a ministerial member of the Crossroads District), meeting with Pastor Tim McClellan and the StratOp team at Lakeview Wesleyan Church, meeting with one of our pastors in preparation for his upcoming vote, and meeting with an LBA members from another church who will be leading their team’s pastoral search. (As much as I enjoyed the break, I was excited to get back to the work that God has called us to do together!)
I trust your Christmas was blessed with meaningful times of celebration and connection, both with your church family and with loved ones. There are inspiring reports posted on social media from many of our churches who also made this a season of focused outreach to their communities. Thank you to each church leader who went the second and third mile to mobilize their teams for these high impact opportunities. If you haven’t already done so, make time to debrief with your team. Take notes on what worked and what you can improve. Christmas 2019 will be here before you know it!
Sherry and I will be joining about 1500 other Wesleyan pastors and their spouses in Orlando this week for The Gathering. Please pray that God will meet with us and pour out His Holy Spirit on us in fresh ways for the Harvest.
Three upcoming events that you’ll want to add to your calendar:
Our Crossroads District’s Youth Ministry hosts an amazing all-nighter each year. This year’s event is scheduled for Fri-Sat, Feb. 22-23, in Fort Wayne. All the youth leaders who are on file with our district office have received detailed information from DYP Lane Sander. If you haven’t received the information, please add you name to the list at our office and make sure your teenagers don’t miss this powerful event! Click here for more information!
ReEquip 2018 was terrific and this year’s one-day training event for lay leaders and pastors promises to be even better. Our guest speakers will be Pastor Mike & Tina Hilson, (New Life Network in LaPlata, MD) who are setting the pace for church multiplication, and Dr. David Smith, TrueNorth Ministry, who is helping churches deepen the level of Bible engagement among their members. There will also be specialized breakouts for children and youth leaders. Plan to bring your team and join us in Marion on April 6. Click here to visit the ReEquip website!
Oswald Chambers wrote that, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” If that quote challenges you as much as it challenges me, please join us for “Crying Out” our 2019 prayer retreat to be held this year at Fairmount Camp on April 12-13. Dr. Jim Lo and a team of intercessors will be leading pastors and local church leaders through guided corporate and personal prayer during this retreat. Please put this date on your calendar and plan to join us.
Let’s pray and work together for an amazing year of Kingdom harvest in Indiana in 2019!
Your servant in Christ,
Sherry and I had the privilege of joining Pastor David and Suzanne Cox yesterday morning for worship at Laketon Wesleyan Church. Established in 1903, Laketon Wesleyan, another of our small rural churches, is located in a community with 97 homes. Led by Pastor Dave, another of our faithful, bi-vocational ministers, the congregation is reaching out to their families, neighbors and friends. David stepped in to “temporarily supply the pulpit” in 2014 and has been there ever since.
Pastor David and Suzanne commute from Warsaw, where they live and work, but they have seen the church rebound from worship attendance of 19 in 2014 to averaging close to 40. They now have a vibrant children’s ministry on Wednesdays, led by Assistant Pastor Josh Warren, and have recently added on to the building providing a nursery, two bathrooms and an office on the main level. Last year they recorded 6 professions of faith and celebrated 2 baptisms. We’re excited about the future for Laketon Wesleyan as they work together to share God’s love in their community.
Sunday evening, I joined with Lead Pastor John Freed and the team from Waterline Church as hosted a vision-casting gathering for their new campus launching this spring in Pendleton with Rev. Joe Deckard serving as campus pastor. It was wonderful to hear how God has been raising up key ministry leaders (worship, children, tech) to join this launch team. I also heard encouraging stories that God has already been opening hearts and providing pathways into the community.
Last Monday, I had the opportunity to connect with pastors in the Fort Wayne area. I met with Pastor Aaron Lee (LaOtto Cultivate Church) and Pastor Kyle Horton (Fort Wayne Three Rivers Church) over lunch, then met with Pastor Heath Croft (Level 13) before having coffee with Pastor Dave Dignal (Edgerton). Pastor Rick Fletcher had invited me to share the Christmas meal with LifeWay Church’s Local Board of Administration. LifeWay is experiencing a wonderful season of growth, averaging 250 over the last few weeks.
Tuesday morning, I met with our district staff before heading back to Fort Wayne for the 25k service on our district vehicle. I was able to make good use of the downtime catching up on phone calls and reading a book called “Reinforcements.” The book explores the research that reveals how people are more willing to help us then we are to ask them.
Wednesday morning, I dropped in at Lapel Daybreak Church to check on Pastor Andy Cole. Elicia is getting the family settled in while Andy is mobilizing volunteers to complete some needed construction projects at the church. I met with Pastors Rochelle and Travis Jenkins for lunch in Irvington before visiting their ministry location in the Little Flowers neighborhood. They’re making in progress launching their house church network by building relationships with coworkers and neighbors. One of their friends even gifted them with a donation to purchase coffee branded mugs to use in spreading the word about Circle City Wesleyan Church. It has been a joy to welcome Rochelle and Travis to the Crossroads District team this year.
My final meeting in the city was with Pastor John Miller. He and Heather are building the launch team for Way City Church to be launched this next year in Speedway. They faced a real challenge finding a meeting space in which they could hold their public worship services. After many closed doors, Pastor John was excited to show me around in “The Factory” a state of the art fitness center on right at the Speedway exit off I-465. You may not tell from this picture but John is just a little bit excited about this answer to prayer!
Thursday morning, I joined Dr. Richard and Pastor Carol Schenck at Circle of Hope’s Noblesville campus for a conversation with another prospective partner church for their growing network. This past weekend, between the 35 in their Dhaka campus and the 4 sites in Indiana, 288 people worshiped as part of the Circle of Hope network.
Thursday afternoon, I had the privilege of convening our quarterly meeting of the Crossroads District of The Wesleyan Church. We had a wonderful team of representatives, lay leaders and clergy, from larger churches of 1000 in attendance to a house church with 3 families, from congregations 175-years-old to ministries that are just being launched, from single-site congregations in the core city to multi-site networks that span the globe. In addition to the accountability steps of policy compliance and financial reporting, we engaged in strategic conversations about leadership development and funding strategies for launching ministries in new zip codes.
Two of the highlights of our meeting was hearing an update from Pastor Mike Hewitt about Rising Hope, our newest church in Muncie, and hearing an update from Dr. David Drury about the house church network that he and Kathy are launching Fishers. Following this productive meeting, we gathered with G.S. Dr. Wayne and Jan Schmidt to share in a delightful Christmas meal. The DBA presented Jan with a lovely Christmas basket and we added to Dr. Schmidt’s collection of novelty socks. (The picture below is from his public Facebook page so I can share it with you.)
Friday morning, Assistant DS Chris WIlliams and I met at Abbey Coffee for planning and to handle follow-up items from the DBA. Friday evening, Sherry and I were honored to host Pastor Mark & Ronda Atkinson, Pastor Brent & Naomi Miller, Pastor Tom & Kara Parsons, and Pastor Ryan & Rachel Budde for their zone’s fellowship gathering at Thornapple. These evenings are a blessing to us and we hope these times are encouraging to our team members. We received a text on Saturday morning from one couple who wrote, “We sure had a great time. Thank you for your incredible hospitality. Definitely was an aura of love in the house.” Special thanks to Sherry, my amazing wife, who goes the second mile to make these evenings possible.
Saturday, I was able to drop in on amazing community outreach called “The Big Give” that River Church hosted in Marion. We join them in praising God for more than 1000 Christmas boxes donated, more than 3000 attendees, and more than 200 decisions for Christ. Saturday evening, I joined with Pastor Clifton Ashlock at United Wesleyan Church in Anderson in their Spanish-language evening service as they hosted Rev. Dr. Diego Chuyma as their guest speaker for the weekend. Dr. Chuyma holds a D.Min from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and serves cross-culturally as a church planter and theological educator in Bolivia. We’re praying with Anderson United Wesleyan as they move through this year of leadership transition.
Just a reminder that it’s not too late to register for the Gathering! We’d love to have you join our team in Orlando next month (January 9-11) and, at last word, there are still district matching funds available. Link to the Gathering info
Our office will be closed next week but I will still be available to our district pastors, as needed, by phone or email. This will be our last weekly team update of the 2018 calendar year so, on behalf of our Crossroads District team, please know that our prayers are for you, your family, and your congregation to have a blessed Christmas celebration and all the best that God promises in the new year!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Dan and Alana Van Cise at West 8th Street Wesleyan Church this morning, December 9. Dan is one of our district’s faithful bi-vocational pastors. One of the things most I appreciate about Pastor Dan’s leadership is the intentional way that he involves and mentors IWU students in the ministry at West 8th Street. IWU students helped lead worship this morning and offered the Advent candle reading. After preaching a Christmas message in the service, I met briefly with Pastor Dan and members of the LBA before Sherry and I enjoyed hosting Pastor Dan & Alana for lunch.
Sunday evening, Sherry and I joined Pastor Tim & Cynthia McClellan for the annual Lakeview Wesleyan Church Christmas Cantata. Some of you may know that Sherry works part-time with Pastor Tim’s finance team. Congratulations to Pastor Tim and the Lakeview team for working together to pull off this inspiring concert.
Last Monday was an office day. It was good to catch up on some reading, email, and phone calls. Tuesday morning, our district team met at Abbey Coffee for our weekly staff meeting. Tuesday afternoon, I had a scheduled meeting via ZOOM with GS Dr. Wayne Schmidt for an annual prayer connection. I was in the northern part of our district Tuesday evening for our annual coaching conversation with Rev. Jere Gowin, pastor of Kingsford Heights Wesleyan Church. Rev. Gowin is another of our bi-vocational pastors. It was encouraging to hear of the teenager who gave his life to Christ at the church this year. Pastor Jere is also mentoring someone who is taking steps to answer a call to ministry.
The highlight of Wednesday was an ideation session with Chris and Seth as we looked at the resources available to assist our pastors with life planning. We are working on a series of three events. The first will be for new pastors in the launching phase of ministry. The second event will be for mid-career pastors in the prime season of ministry. The third event would be for pastors who are preparing for their encore phase. Stay tuned for opportunities to help pilot these leadership development experiences in 2019.
I spent Thursday morning in my office doing sermon preparation for Sunday’s assignment and then Sherry and I hosted Rev. Steve & Beth Jones for a visit in the afternoon. Beth is my younger sister and Steve and I served together in ministry for 4+ years in North Dakota. It is always exciting to hear how God is blessing their work at LifeChange Community Church in Burnips, Michigan.
Friday morning, I attended IWU’s closing chapel of the fall semester. Dr. John Bray, IWU’s Chaplain, does a great job leading the spiritual life team. I checked in on Mrs. Roxene Lo after chapel and was glad to hear that her cataract surgery went well.
Friday afternoon, Sherry and I picked up Chris & Marietta Williams and drove to Monon for the Region 3 Christmas fellowship at The Whistle Stop. More than 30 people, pastors and spouses, joined us at this unique restaurant which features America’s largest private museum of railroad memorabilia. The food was delicious and the fellowship was terrific. Thank you to Chris and Seth for their exceptional work in putting this event together to express appreciation to our pastors.
Saturday morning, I was with Assistant DS Chris Williams in Tipton at Ash Street Wesleyan Church as he rolled out a modified Maximum Impact model for smaller churches. The team had already completed a self-study before this session. Chris worked with Pastor Logan Westrick and a committed team of leaders learning about the marks of a faithful church and core growth engines.
Then, on Sunday morning, Chris was on site for observations in the first impressions, worship experience and children’s ministry. Chris will follow-up with a report that includes observations and recommendations. If the LBA adopts the report, Chris will also be available to provide implementation coaching. If you pastor a church that averages less than 50 in worship attendance and would be interested in learning more about this consultation, please contact our office.
Saturday evening, Sherry and I were able to enjoy IWU’s Christmas Extravaganza. It was an amazing evening with 240 talented vocalists and musicians delivering an uplifting experience for a packed house. It was also a special occasion as President David Wright recognized Dr. Earle Wilson, General Superintendent Emeritus, who was present and celebrating his 84th birthday!
Many of you will know that The River Church in Marion accepted the challenge of launching a campus in Chesterton with a core team and our existing facility. They’ve been in a silent phase of training the team and planting seeds for several weeks but this past weekend was a significant step forward. The River Church in Chesterton blessed their city with a “Big Give” inspired and resourced by the team in Marion. More than 100 families were blessed with Christmas gift boxes on Saturday and, best of all, 17 people prayed to receive Christ as the Gospel was presented. Special thanks to Pastor Matthew Trexler and the Marion team for the extraordinary investment of prayer, time and energy they’ve made in preparing to launch this campus.
This coming week’s schedule includes our District Board of Administration meeting on Thursday and a Friday evening fellowship at Thornapple with Pastor Mark Atkinson’s zone members. Then, next Sunday morning, I’m looking forward to my first visit at Laketon Wesleyan Church with Pastor David & Suzanne Cox.
Thank you for all you are doing to advance the Kingdom in this Advent season!
Your servant in Christ,
ReEquip (One Day District Leadership Training Event) – April 6, 2019
Crying Out (District Prayer Retreat) – April 12-13, 2019
Sunday morning, December 2, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Brian Williams and the congregation at Sims Wesleyan Church. This is a warm and welcoming church family serving a rural community on the west side of Grant County.
Pastor Brian and Dianna Williams have pastored here since 1987. Rural ministry can be challenging but last year they averaged 42 in worship with 30 in Sunday School and 3 professions of faith. Pastor Brian has encouraged the congregation to be faithful in sharing their stories and testimonies of God’s grace with their relatives and friends. We closed the service yesterday with a commissioning prayer.
I also enjoyed meeting with the LBA after the service. It was good to be able to affirm the progress they’ve made in maintaining and updating their property. I was reminded again that it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people and rural churches can still play a key role in advancing the Kingdom!
Last Monday, I met with the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for Fairmount Camp. David Tippey has done a great job of chairing the Board for the past few years but felt the time had come to turn over the gavel to the next leader. The Executive Committee developed a strong list of potential candidates that they’ll be contacting and would invited you to join them in praying for God’s direction in this important selection process.
Tuesday morning, I met with Pastor Mark Atkinson for an update on the multi-site ministry of Eastview Wesleyan Church before heading to Indy. Assistant DS Mike Colaw has opened his monthly all-staff meetings for Region 2 pastors and their teams. Chris Williams and I were able to join in for this month’s session which featured Rev. Ian Swyers from Global Partners. Ty Combs led in the Scripture meditation, Josh Lavender led us in worship and then Ian brought a challenging talk about flourishing where we’re planted. It’s great to see new team members connecting with our long-tenured leaders.
After the meeting, I met with Pastor Scott McDermid, our next pastor at Sheridan Six Points Church, for an update on the exciting developments since he’s arrived. Six Points is strategically positioned for significant impact as Hamilton County’s population continues to grow in their direction. We’re glad that Pastor Scott and Nicole (and their sons Caleb & Isaac) are part of the Crossroads District team!
Tuesday afternoon, I participated in the monthly ZOOM call that General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt hosts for the 25 district superintendents each month. This month Dr. Schmidt provided a recap from our recent General Board meeting. Tuesday evening, I met with Pastor Dan Heylmann (Grant City Wesleyan) for our annual coaching conversation.
Wednesday morning, I met with Aaron Wilkinson at Wesley Seminary for an update on some of the ways that the seminary is developing to better serve the Church. I’m grateful for Dr. Colleen Derr and the team at Wesley Seminary who provide such a valued educational resource for our students and denomination. Keep them in your prayers!
Wednesday afternoon, I joined the other 3 district superintendents of the Heartland Region for a meeting with General Treasurer Kevin Batman, Jake Lapp and Matthew Ray. We’re making progress toward a shared services agreement that will allow us to contract with the General Treasurer’s office for accounting and financial support. Both Kevin and Jake have been local church treasurers in the Crossroads District so they bring expertise and a great heart for the lay finance/accounting volunteers who serve our congregations.
Rev. Jim Weinmann and I met later Wednesday afternoon for our annual coaching conversation. The Weinmann family are still mourning the loss of their brother and son Richard (Rick) Weinmann who passed away earlier this month. Pastor Jim conducted the funeral at Evanston Avenue Wesleyan Church on November 25.
Wednesday evening, I was able to attend Bible study at The Pour House. The study on “Fighting Temptations” was led by Pastor D’Aldo Jones, a friend and ministry colleague of one of our pastors. After the service, I appreciated the opportunity to sit with Pastor & Lisa Jones to hear their 19 year journey of church planting in the inner city.
Thursday, a group of pastors from the Heartland Region gathered from 10 until 3 at the IWU Greenwood campus for ELEVATE, a day of leadership development with Rev. Ken Murphy, pastor of Cypress Wesleyan Church in Columbus, Ohio. One of the clarifying questions that Ken asked that day is: “Am I owning the results of the behaviors/systems that I have either created or allowed?” Another one was: “Are we focused on building a great church but neglecting to build great people?”
Later Thursday afternoon, I met with a prospective church planter in Avon who connected with us through Wesley Seminary. He’s still a few years from launching but it was encouraging to hear how God is working in his life.
Thursday evening, I met with Rev. Barry Dixon, pastor of Indianapolis Calvary Family Church and member of the Crossroads DBA, for our annual coaching conversation. Rev. Dixon is a faithful pastor in a difficult context with a heart to reach the next generation. I’m grateful for his example and encouragement.
It was good to connect with Assistant DS Chris Williams on Friday morning before heading to Indianapolis for a coaching conversation with Rev. George Martin, pastor of The Sanctuary Church. The Sanctuary Church is an affiliate congregation that leases the former Eastlawn Wesleyan Church on Post Road. They have a dynamic ministry and it was good to catch up with Pastor Martin who recently returned from a Lilly sabbatical.
Each of our 3 regions in the Crossroads District handles their own logistics for gatherings like the Christmas season. This year, Region 2, led by Assistant DS Mike Colaw, gathered at Trinity Wesleyan Church for a banquet featuring special musical guests, Zion’s Joy. Pastor Mike & Leslie and the entire Trinity Church team did a terrific job in welcoming more than 100 pastors and spouses for an inspiring evening. (Special thanks to Barbara Nichter who makes magic happen behind the scenes at Trinity.) Dr. Joe and Lois Sawyer. were among our special guests that evening. What a blessing to see their joy in the Lord!
May the joy of the Lord be our strength as we make the most of every opportunity in this Advent Season!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday, November 25, I had the privilege of installing Rev. Andrew Cole as the new pastor at Lapel Daybreak Community Church. Daybreak was planted more than 20 years ago by Rev. Richard and Debbie Cole, Andy’s parents, so he’s no stranger to the congregation. After a successful pastorate with the Church of the Nazarene in Muncie, Andy and Elicia most recently served as lead pastor at Brookview Wesleyan Church in Birmingham, Alabama. While a member of the South Coastal District team, Rev. Cole helped lead the district church planter training and where he was also an Assistant District Superintendent.
It is exciting to see the Daybreak congregation’s positive response to Andy’s leadership. Attendance has more than doubled and there’s a wonderful sense of anticipation for this new chapter in the life of the church. We’re also looking forward to Andy’s leadership as part of our Crossroads District Team. Welcome home Andy & Elicia!
Sunday evening, I joined Pastor Terry and Lennaire Vaughn and their team at the Bridge Urban Church in South Bend. It was great to catch up with the progress of this disciples-making ministry. They have a growing core of 20-30 young adults meeting in their home on Wednesdays.
We also had the opportunity to walk through a vacant church building that may be an option as their ministry takes the step toward weekend worship services. Pray that God will grant this team His wisdom and provision as they reach out to make disciples in the challenges and opportunities of the urban mission field.
The most exciting news I heard this week was from Pastor Dan Fisher in Delphi where two people prayed to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior yesterday morning! Praise the Lord!
Last week's ministry schedule was abbreviated with the wonderful and much appreciated Thanksgiving break. On Monday, I was able to connect with Assistant DS Matthew Trexler’s Region 1 leadership cohort as they work through “DiscipleShift.”
This was a big week for the Trexler family with Adrianna, their oldest child, signing her official letter accepting an athletic scholarship with the basketball program at Indiana Wesleyan University. Pastor Matthew and Adrianna may be the first father-daughter combination to have both played intercollegiate basketball at IWU.
Tuesday morning was our district team meeting and then Assistant DS Chris Williams joined me to interview a prospective church planter over lunch. The final meeting of the day was with Pastor Tim McClellan to debrief the StratOp planning retreat at Lakeview Wesleyan and to map next steps for the two teams that are tackling the key initiatives.
Our children all made it home for Thanksgiving by Wednesday and we enjoyed having a full house to celebrate together through Saturday noon. We are blessed to have a family that loves God and loves each other. Like you, we have so much for which to be thankful!
Pastor Logan Patriquin announced this past week that The Branch (formerly Schuyler Avenue Wesleyan Church) in Lafayette successfully concluded their search for a worship and students pastor. Ms. Amber Bass will be joining their team on December 2. This is another big step of faith for the team at The Branch as they reach out to their community. We’re excited to welcome Amber to the Crossroads District team and to celebrate this answer to prayer!
The week after a break always seems to be exciting and this one will be no exception. The Region 2 pastors are meeting in Indianapolis on Tuesday with Assistant DS Mike Colaw. On Thursday, the Heartland Region hosts our second ELEVATE leadership development with Pastor Ken Murphy, this time in Greenwood at IWU’s campus. Then, the Region 2 Christmas party is scheduled for Friday evening at Trinity Wesleyan Church. In between those events, I’m looking forward to coaching conversations with our pastors and at least two interviews with prospective church planters.
Please continue to pray that the Lord of Harvest will send workers into His fields!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent